“Be Kind for Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle” -Plato
The past two nights, in having two people reach out to me, God has been reminding me of the power of kindness and compassion. In working with the public as I do, I am often witness to the personal pain and suffering of my fellow man. When I meet a person initially, their pain isn’t often apparent. At some point when they feel safe, their walls come down. It is easier for their walls to come down because usually, I can’t see their faces. I am sure part of their comfort level has to do with the unique nature in which I work- online and via telephone. If you aren’t used to having people share their life stories with you, you may be surprised to know just what all of the people you encounter (either online or in person) are dealing with in their daily lives or have dealt with in their past. It is a real eye opener.
It is easy to judge our fellow man. I am guilty of it sometimes too (although I always try my best not to). It is easy to think others around us have the perfect lives because of what we think we know about them or because of what we see on the outside. The smiling pictures on Facebook, the way it seems like so and so has the perfect family, nice things, the perfect marriage, the best social life, etc. The danger in seeing one side of things is that we sometimes forget that most everyone we meet truly is fighting some kind of battle. We can become reactive towards others instead of seeing the bigger picture of what we are dealing with. It can be easy to forget to come from our hearts instead of our heads/judgement.
God made us in various shapes, sizes, colors and cultures. The one thing that ties us all together is our humanity. We should be careful not to assume things about another without having a true understanding of what it must be like to walk in that person’s shoes. No one is exempt from pain. We all deal with it. When people rub us the wrong way are we able to respond in love, or are we quick to judge and react?
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1
Proverbs 15:4 goes on to say that gentle words are a tree of life (NLT)
God is using one of my recent online interactions with a new person to remind me to really listen and have extra kindness and patience for that which I don’t fully understand firsthand. I needed this reminder from a stranger because there are a couple of people in my family that I can be so reactive to. Whether I have reason to or not, is not the point. The point is that I lose my patience with them more than I should, and miss opportunities to respond in love. Some people trigger us more than others. You know what? The people that trigger, annoy and frustrate us the most are probably the ones who hurt the most inside.
Some people live lives we can’t relate to. They’ve gone down roads we wouldn’t go down, have unique circumstances or illnesses, even have beliefs we don’t agree with. Sometimes it is easier to walk on by so to speak, than it is to love. Yet, if everyone walked on by, people would feel more isolated in their pain. Someone has to reach out, because people are in need of love more than judgement. People are in need of being truly SEEN rather than ignored.
In this recent encounter of mine, I initially reached out and then backed off. By the response I was getting, I didn’t think I was getting through to the person anyway. It seemed like every suggestion I offered was shot down and found myself feeling a bit annoyed (icky vulnerable admission here). I decided to give up and move on. Several days later something pulled at my heartstrings (I’m sure it was the Holy Spirit). Without going in to detail, I will just say that I reached out again, but it felt a bit different because it came from a place of deeper love and compassion. I allowed myself to feel what it must be like to be in their shoes, allowing any previous judgement or misunderstanding to their responses to dissolve. Even though I couldn’t 100% understand or relate to all they had shared, I told them that my heart went out to them and was sorry for what they have to go through daily.
You don’t have to fully understand or agree with another person to show them compassion, kindness and respect (this statement rings true for so many situations).
You know what? That is all it took. That is all the person needed. Even more than advice, this person needed to be loved and respected as they are. They needed someone to care. Much to my surprise, I later received a touching message (which got me a bit teary eyed) thanking me for reaching out and for treating them this way. Kindness matters. It matters more than we sometimes know. And here I thought I wasn’t even making a difference…
When we remember that everyone is fighting some sort of battle, it is easier to to find that love and compassion inside ourselves. We can get out of our heads and speak with our hearts. We don’t always know what is going on in someone’s life. They may be dealing with abuse at home, have a mental or physical illness, grieving the loss of a loved one, going through a divorce, etc. It is helpful to remember this in all of our interactions with people (even those who project anger or rudeness on to us), as we are less likely to be reactive and more likely to respond in love.
Here is an inspired prayer for this week:
May I remember to slow down, look outside myself, and truly SEE my fellow man. May I have compassion and kindness for the suffering of others and for my own hurt parts as well. May I exercise patience and love as often as possible, instead of being quick to react to people or situations that are challenging for me. May I especially remember to have the same level of Grace and kindness with my loved ones right here at home.
In Love and Grace,